Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila has said the German government has shown willingness to revise the offer of reparations to Namibian communities over the genocide in colonial Namibia more than 100 years ago.
The latest undertaking comes after the initial offer was rejected by the Namibian authorities. “Germany has indicated that they were willing to give Namibia an amount of money for the implementation of projects.
However, this amount is far below meaningful reparations,” Kuugongelwa-Amadhila told lawmakers in the National Assembly yesterday while updating the nation on the status of the genocide negotiations between the two governments.
“This amount is also not acceptable to Namibia, given the loss of lives, land and cultural heritage of the affected communities and the impact the genocide has today on the Namibian nation in general,” she added. Tens of thousands of Namibians, mainly the Nama and Ovaherero, were killed in what is called the first genocide of the 20th century. German troops massacred and displaced tens of thousands of Namibians in 1904-1908. In 2015, the two countries started negotiating an agreement that would combine an official apology by the German as well as development aid. The negotiations have now taken close to five years. Namibia’s negotiation strategy is based on three pillars, which is genocide, apology and reparations. The Namibian negotiation team led by veteran diplomat Zed Ngavirue wants Germany to acknowledge to have committed genocide in Namibia during the period 1904-1908, Germany to render an unconditional apology, delivered at the highest level to the Namibian government and people, in particular, the affected communities; and for Germany to pay reparations.
Initially, the Namibians proposed to the German side to look at projects, as a way of moving away and not be bogged down by the reparations quantum.
The said projects were to cover areas of water provision, rural and peri-urban electrification, road network construction, housing, education, vocational training, value addition, agricultural development, land acquisition and development.
The projects were also to be implemented in the seven identified regions where the affected communities predominantly reside, such as the //Kharas, Hardap, Khomas, Kunene, Omaheke, Otjozondjupa and Erongo regions. Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said the negotiations are ongoing and the technical committee on genocide, apology and reparations which is composed of representatives from government and the affected communities is working on the costed projects in the said areas.
She said the affected communities have been consulted and have made inputs into the projects’ framework, in terms of their developmental needs. “There were further contacts made with our government by the German government on this issue recently, where it gave a new offer and expressed its willingness to further negotiate on its offer,” the prime minister said, adding that this very recent development is a subject of consideration by government as usual, and the affected communities and the nation will be updated and engaged in the usual way once government has considered the communication from Germany.
Last year, President Hage Geingob announced the German government has acknowledged the mass killings of the Nama and Ovaherero, as genocide and willing to apologise to affected communities. Geingob made the revelation during the questions and answer session following his state of the nation address in the National Assembly while responding to a question posed by Nudo leader Esther Muinjangue, who wanted an update on the issue. While Germany has previously acknowledged “moral responsibility” for the killings, it has avoided making an official apology for the massacres to avoid compensation claims. “I got a report of how far they are now and it is said the Germans will come around and they have agreed whatever happened some 100 years ago is tantamount to genocide. Maybe here in parliament and I hope you won’t attack them,” he said at the time.